Conference Coverage

Opioid prescribing patterns mostly ‘unchanged’ with laparoscopy



– Opioid prescription is surprisingly high after laparoscopic colorectal surgery, and is higher at larger hospitals and in some regions of the United States, according to a new study.

“In theory, for management of pain, any opioids required should be lower after laparoscopic surgery, but opioids are still ubiquitous and prescribing patterns have largely been unchanged with laparoscopy,” Deborah S. Keller, MD, assistant professor of surgery at Columbia University, New York, said at the annual clinical congress of the American College of Surgeons.

Several studies show wide variation in opioid use and prescribing after laparoscopic colorectal surgery, Dr. Keller said. She also pointed out that available data are limited on inpatient opioid use and the causes of high opioid use.

The team analyzed records of 18,395 subjects from the Premier Inpatient Database, between Jan. 1, 2014, and Sept. 30, 2015. The mean age was 61 years, and 54% were female. The distribution of hospital-stay milligram morphine equivalents (MME) was 48 at the 25th percentile, 108 at the 50th, and 246 at the 75th percentile. Overall, 18% of patients were in the high use category.

Some factors were associated with high opioid use, including emergency surgery (odds ratio, 1.28; P = .0002), being aged 18-34 (OR, 5.8; P less than .0001), major severity of illness (OR, 4.2; P less than .0001), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease comorbidity (OR, 1.13; P =.0350), having Medicaid insurance (OR, 1.35; P less than .0001), and being treated in a rural hospital (OR, 1.44; P less than.0001).

Factors associated with lower opioid use included female sex (OR, 0.90; P = .0064), being treated in a facility with fewer than 500 beds (OR, 0.706-0.822, all statistically significant), being treated in the Midwest (OR, 0.62; P less than .0001) or the South (OR, 0.66; P less than .0001), and treatment by a surgeon with a lower surgical volume (fewer than 65 cases vs. 300; OR, 0.58; P = .0286).

The study was limited by its reliance on administrative data, and one questioner at the session wondered about the validity of the 75% cutoff for high use, suggesting that it would be better to pick a value that was associated with a known increased risk of opioid dependence.

The findings could help inform future guidelines, Dr. Keller said. “On a local level, it can help optimize enhanced recovery protocols, (assist) providers to proactively recognize patients and scenarios at risk for high use, and create targeted education for younger patients, hospitals in specific geographic regions, and larger bedside hospitals so that they can follow best practices,” she added.

The finding that institutions with fewer beds were associated with lower chances of high opioid use was a surprise. “We’re looking into that,” she said.

Dr. Keller had no relevant financial disclosures.

SOURCE: Keller DS et al. Clinical Congress 2019, Abstract.

Next Article: